Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6)
From whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:16)
As the days have got shorter so Rob and I have moved our afternoon walk slightly earlier in the afternoon. As it is we still walk at dusk, but we are home before it gets dark. Walking at dusk has allowed us twice now to experience a flock of birds flying all together directly over our heads. On both occasions we have seen the birds rise us from out of the trees and then as one flock fly together. We have stood silently and completely still as the birds have flown over. As the light is quite poor at that time of day the birds are silhouetted against the sky so we are unable to distinguish the type of bird, but we can tell that they are relatively small.
This got me thinking about being part of something much bigger, in the case of the birds, a flock, in the case of ourselves, the Christian family. If just one of the birds were to leave the trees and fly over our heads I suspect that Rob and I would not even notice them. We certainly would not hear them fly over us. But when the whole flock are seen in the sky, we stop and marvel at the sight. And when they fly over there is a lovely gentle whooshing sound as hundreds of wings propel the birds through the sky.
Sometimes we may think that we are only just one, or just part of a very small group and that no one would notice what we are trying to do. But we are not, we are part of a flock, part of God’s flock, we are his children and together we are strong.
One of my favourite hymns has always been ‘The day they gavest, Lord, is ended.’ We don’t tend to sing it very often as it is an evening hymn and most of our services are during the mornings. I clearly remember how inspired I was as a young child by the idea that all over the world there were other Christians and that even while I slept there would be Christians praying and praising God. I found this idea both comforting and inspiring, that I could be part of something so much bigger. Today it still inspires me. We are not alone, we are part of the very large family of God.
Prayer – for the evening
The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended, the darkness falls at thy behest; to thee our morning hymns ascended, thy praise shall sanctify our rest. We thank thee that thy Church, unsleeping while earth rolls onward into light, through all the world her watch is keeping and rests not now by day nor night. As o'er each continent and island the dawn leads on another day, the voice of prayer is never silent, nor dies the strain of praise away. The sun that bids us rest is waking our brethren 'neath the western sky, and hour by hour fresh lips are making thy wondrous doings heard on high. So be it, Lord; thy throne shall never, like earth's proud empires, pass away; thy kingdom stands, and grows for ever, till all thy creatures own thy sway.
Song: The Day thou gavest Lord is ended